More than uncritical, sex positivity seems to actively discourage examination by dismissing any analysis that isn’t positive or neutral (beyond Your Kink Is Not My Kink) as kink-shaming or any number of other reductive dismissals that preclude critical examination or discussion.
Potential counterpoints are addressed by building straw men easily dismissed as vanilla or prudish, or as ignorant, uninformed, or inexperienced. Actual counterpoints are automatically deemed kink shaming or censorship.
If criticism is already assumed as coming from some position on a sliding scale of ignorance/inexperience to dislike/disgust, then no criticism is valid.
If “sex positive” precludes criticism, I am not sex positive.
Melissa A. Fabello’s piece, “3 Reasons Why Sex-Positivity without Critical Analysis Is Harmful,” speaks more eloquently than I can.
She draws on Allena Gabosh’s 2008 Southplains Leatherfest keynote address, Gabosh defines sex positive as “an attitude towards human sexuality that regards all consensual sexual activities as fundamentally healthy and pleasurable and encourages sexual pleasure and experimentation.” Fabello boils sex positivity down to “not making moral judgments, respecting everyone’s personal preferences, and encouraging people to be active agents in discovering what does (and doesn’t) make them tick.”
I’m on board with all of that, but, like Fabello, when sex positivity assumes that all choices are “automatically liberating” and “everything is revolutionarily enlightened” without considering the social structures from which those choices emerge or the implications of choices on existing/future structures, then I need to take a step back.
Fabello advocates sex positivity coupled with critical analysis in three areas:
- The role of socialization and social structures in our preferences and choices (including those available).
- The uneasy relationship between individual empowerment and collective oppression, along with recognition that what is liberating to one may contribute to the oppression of many.
- The new status quo of sexual liberation, one that looks a lot like repackaged sexism.
The most important thing Fabello says is this: “These issues aren’t black-and-white. They’re not easy. They’re not one-size-fits-all. They deserve a conversation.”
If sex positivity is black and white, and if a sex positive approach precludes these conversations, then I am not sex positive. Perhaps sex critical is the more appropriate label for my thinking?
(more on this later in another exciting installment of me figuring out what the fuck I think about things)
Post published courtesy of my grumpy inner feminist, who wants to remind you: